Start a Conversation: Classroom Resources About Protest

Over the past few weeks there have been countless protests not just across the United States, but around the world. America is no stranger to protests, in fact, the Boston Tea Party was a protest that helped kick start the Revolutionary War. Though the right to protest was provided for citizens in the First Amendment, constitutional protection and rights took far longer to extend to members of the BIPOC community in the US. We will take a look at some of the protests that have been fought around the country. There are lots of fantastic resources to help navigate these conversations. We’ve collected some of these resources and provided them below to help teach students about these important topics.

Civil Rights Movements

America’s Civil War ended in 1865 and set in motion legislation that made all enslaved people free. Though legally given freedom, there were and continue to be many serious issues to face. Perhaps one of the most famous protests for Civil Rights was led by Martin Luther King Jr. He became a leader of the Civil Rights Movement that, amongst many great acts and accomplishments, created the Birmingham bus boycott and the March on Washington. These protests and efforts eventually led to the Civil Rights Bill, passed in 1964. Other notable Civil Rights protests happened in the mid to late 1990s. The Million Man March and the Million Women March worked to focus on unity across the Black community and having these communities be understood and valued. The marches combined had an estimated 1 to 3 million people participate. Both marches continued beyond their original dates and have taken place in recent years.

Learning about Black Lives Matter, the Civil Rights Movements, and protest is crucial for children to understand. Check out these resources to learn how to facilitate conversations about Civil Rights and protest:

A Micro-Syllabus on How To Teach Black Lives Matter from the Washington Post

Part II: Teaching Black Lives Matter to Different Age Groups from Teaching Tolerance

Part I: What is Black Lives Matter? From Teaching Tolerance

Guiding Lessons and Questions on Civil Rights for High School from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Understanding Protest Lesson for Middle and High School Students from the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project

The Chican@ Movements

(Like many languages, Spanish has feminine and masculine words that are at times differentiated with an “o” or “a” at the end. Chican@ is a more inclusive way to spell the word to incorporate all gender expressions.)

There is a long history of Mexican-Americans experiencing discrimination. The U.S. and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848. This treaty added lands that were already home to thousands of Mexican citizens who became Americans through the treaty. The change in citizenship did not change the pervasive racism in the area. Latin@s were denied access to education, safe living conditions, and millions were forcibly deported to Mexico. There have been many protests as well as significant court cases that secured fundamental rights. One important case was Mendez v. Westminster Supreme Court. This mandated California schools to educate white and Latin@ children together. In addition to court cases, there were peaceful boycotts in the 1960s to oppose unfair working conditions. One famous demonstration was led by Caesar Chavez to boycott grape picking. This boycott helped to secure a union to fight for better working conditions.

These educational resources will help you talk about Civil Rights Movements and protests in Latin@ communities within America. Discussing these protests in class is important for students so they can see social change in action as well as better understand civics and ethics. Use these resources to start a conversation in your classroom today:

Latin@ Civil Rights Timeline from Teaching Tolerance

Classroom Lesson on 1968 Latin@ Protest from Facing History and Ourselves

Lesson on Chicano Movement from PBS LearningMedia

Guiding Questions and Objectives on the United Farm Workers Movement from the National Endowment for the Humanities

American Indian Movement

Another group that has suffered from racism, unfair laws, and violence are Native Americans. The American Indian Movement (or AIM) is an organization created in 1968 to help achieve several different goals. These goals range from control over reservation areas, legal protections, and economic independence. In order to fight for justice, the AIM organized several protests throughout history. The Standing Rock Protest was against the construction of an oil pipeline slated to go through sacred land with the potential to pollute local water. Protesters were subjected to police brutality during this protest. Another famous protest was the occupation of Alcatraz Island in California. According to the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, land that the government abandoned or is no longer using must be returned to Native Americans. A group of Native Americans occupied this island for almost two years until they were forced to leave.

We hope that these resources are helpful in talking about protests and current events within your classroom and home. There are many other resources, but look at these to get started:

Classroom Learning Plan to Understand Racial Injustice Against Native Americans from Teaching Tolerance

Lesson Plan on the Standing Rock Protest from the New York Times

Lesson for Learning About Native American Activism from the New York Times

Teaching Guide on the American Indian Movement from PBS LearningMedia

Informational Texts About Native American History with the US Government from Teaching Tolerance

Protests are an essential component of U.S. history. They show what great determination can accomplish and highlight injustice and inequality. Currently, the country is going through a new set of protests for the Black Lives Matter movement. Civil rights are human rights, and human rights are non-negotiable. Please use the educational resources provided to learn about these problems and have conversations about them. You can use them in your classroom or home to help unpack and understand the issues. Please use them to start learning, start talking, and start acting.

**Project Archaeology understands that the list of resources we provided is not exhaustive or complete. There are many more wonderful resources from and to learn about the BIPOC community that we encourage readers to find.**